young man with mask holding hands over his heart in gratitudeThe topic of virtual holiday gatherings is a hot one for my clients. Without the option of in-person celebrations, corporate executives and leaders are coming up with some really creative alternatives, like delivered gifts or meals, online cocktail parties and virtual team-building games. 

Without question, these are all fantastic ideas. In fact, Vida Aventura offers a great lineup of creative team-building games, activities and online options, including a Virtual Escape Game and At The Racescontact us to find out more. However, I cannot emphasize this enough: virtual events, gift orders and tokens of appreciation shouldn’t stand alone. 

During a recent phone call with a CEO and client, I asked him about his corporate holiday plans. “I’m sending every member of my team a prepared meal from a local market, and then we’re eating online together,” he said. My reply was, “And what else?”

He was a little taken back. “Well … we’re having a really nice dinner and I’m sure I’ll make a special toast – the experience is the gift. What else is there?”

Don’t get me wrong, this is a beautiful gesture. But all the gifts and special deliveries in the world can’t take the place of a leader personally delivering words of appreciation – spoken out loud –  that recognize individuals and teams. Here’s what I mean.

Make the effort. Whether it’s during a video conference, virtual event or a personal phone call, take the time to address each member on your team, create a meaningful dialogue and show appreciation for their 2020 contributions.

Be specific. Instead of saying something like, “You’re doing a great job – keep it up,” say, “Cecillia, I appreciate the energy you continuously bring to the table, especially in stressful times. The way you’ve mentored new team members is remarkable, and this year’s increased profits are largely due to your direction and leadership.” Stay away from generic platitudes, and point out specific accomplishments, personality traits or actions that stand out uniquely to that person.

Get personal. No doubt, 2020 has been a rough year, and in many ways it seems as though time has stood still. But alas, life is moving on. We have all experienced personal highs and lows … struggles and victories. Show genuine interest in your team’s experiences. Ask Joe if he finished that bathroom remodel, and oh, are there before and after pics he can share? Find out how Jordan’s new baby is doing, and see if Sara’s puppy is still chewing all the furniture. Your interest in what’s happening outside of office hours shows people they are valued … that they matter.  

Use your words. Expressing gratitude never gets old, no matter the form it comes in. But in the workplace, the most powerful and effective of all is when leaders verbally express their appreciation, and recognize the specific acts, attributes, skills and talents that each person is contributing. 

What Works For You?

If you’re a business leader, we’d love to hear how you are expressing appreciation for your employees this year. And if you’ve had a leader in the past who was particularly skilled in this area, let us know about that too! Please leave your comments below. 


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